Robert Grant Haliburton to Frederick Chesson, 16 October 1878, C137/124

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Haliburton, Robert









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C137-124


Carleton Chambers
October 16 78

My dear Chesson,

On looking over the … of the Royal Colonial Institute I find your familiar name on the list of fellows, and that you have changed your house. I have heard nothing [yet from you?] and shall be glad to get a line from you. I hear you have leisure for such an unprofitable task as … of writing to old friends. Have you still faith in spiritualism and are you still working away the bete noir of colonial oppressors of the red and black man?

We have a serious lark on our hands, the Emigrant Society with Sitting Bull at their heel. So far we have had no trouble partly on account of our policy of acting fairly to the Indians and partly on account of the [worldly?] conduct of the yankees making ours the [more best and liberally …]. Still there is a great danger, for those warlike indians are like a powder magazine in a storm – safe enough if the unlucky spark does not happen to fall near it.

Without flattery I can say that I know few persons whose lives have been devoted to more practical and effective works of philanthropy. In every direction I am reminded of you and your labours, … in this country.

We are passing through an important change here. The Conservatives are coming in, and are likely to adopt a firmer policy with the yankees. We have hitherto given them up our markets in the vain hope that they wd reciprocate but while our pastures have been swarming with their cattle and ours are driven out, their fences grow higher instead of lower, and our liberality supplies a hostile system that by high duties and … has crushed our sugar refining interests, our coal trade, our West Indian trade, and to a considerable extent our cheese and … trade. As a coal owner, the largest in Nova Scotia, I am deeply concerned in the changes and may yet … by my coal properties.

I am now [growing?] up [protein?] coal for coke, and am practicing in the Sup Court of Canada and am a L.C. Appeals from the seven provinces of the dominion. My health has improved very much by my being free from entanglements and [hostilities?] thrown at me by my being a managing director of two coal companies, that collapsed through our coal being crushed by the yankee markets being closed agt. us, and our own western markets being handed over to the yankees. As soon as I can manage it, I shall return to England, but I must wait till coal looks up, which I trust will be ere long.

The Court here is a new one and the business will take a year or two to grow, but meanwhile I am doing very well so far as my … goes.

We are expecting the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne.

You may remember that I applied for an appointment to the Colonial Office, backed up by the conservative agent, conservative members, and influences of no mean weight. You yourself and your Methodist friends having done their best. But though no Canadian can ever expect to have the same influence, they were useless, and the fact stands…that we are practically regarded as aliens and outsiders, and are cut off from all chance of imperial employment. Even in the Crown Colonies.

The extent to which the system of … Canadians is carried, is almost incredible. The Canadians pay the salaries of all officers from the Governor General downwards, but they give the nomination of the Govt Secy to the Colonial Office. Now one would suppose that in Canada itself as respects officers paid for my us, there wd be some reconition of Canadians. This is not the case. The Govr General has no Canadians under staff. The office of the Govr Secy (…) leads often to a Govr and at any rate to a [CMG?]. This was filled by … Colonel [Littlehan?], who again is appoint to the post. There is not a single Canadian in the Gov General office!!

In our service we return good for evil. There are more Englishmen in office at Ottawa and there are better permanent posts held by them than by all the people of the Maritime provinces.

… told me when I wished for an appointment that no Canadian ought to expect any appointment outside of Canada. It wd make a stir if we were to adopt the policy and keep all Canadian offices for Canadians. I hope that day may never come, but it will most surely come if the Colonial Office sticks to its present policy.

I have heard nothing of our friend [Jenkins?]. He is a good fellow, and I much resent the low abuse of him which is in vogue in the English papers.

If you have nothing better to do, prey drop me a line and let me know how you and your family and our mutual friends are.

With king regards,
I am my dear Chesson,
Yours very truly,
R.G. Haliburton.